Performing Arts Students Kick Off Antibiotic Campaign; Independence Blue Cross Joins Charter School to Highlight Overuse

PHILADELPHIA -- Independence Blue Cross helped kick off the Pennsylvania Coalition for Saving Antibiotic Strength Campaign (PaCSAS) at the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School on January 28.

Students from the second through eighth grades participated in a discussion about good vs. bad germs, such as bacteria and viruses, and learn about the treatment of infections and antibiotic resistance. The discussion was led by Dr. Keith Herzog, director of inpatient services and medical director of quality assurance, at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

In addition, students participated in activities designed to emphasize the importance of proper handwashing in preventing the spread of germs. Students took home a good vs. bad germ goodie bag that included antibacterial hand gel to practice what they learned during the program.

Independence Blue Cross is working as part of PaCSAS to mount a campaign against the overuse of antibiotic drugs -- and the resulting antibiotic resistance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 50 percent of all antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary.

"This is a serious public health issue that deserves a more vigorous public discussion," said G. Fred DiBona, Jr., IBC's president and CEO. "We are grateful to the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School for helping us bring attention to this issue."

"Most upper respiratory infections (runny noses, coughs and sore throats) are caused by viruses, not bacteria," says Dr. Barbara Beeler, medical director at Independence Blue Cross. "Viral infections are not improved by antibiotics, but overuse leads to large numbers of antibiotic resistant bugs. Comfort measures can help alleviate the discomfort and misery, but taking an antibiotic has no positive effect."

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria adapt or change and are no longer susceptible to being killed by an antibiotic. There are several situations that increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance developing:

-- Using antibiotics when they are not needed (e.g. for viral infections

such as the flu, viral sore throat or common cold)

-- Using the wrong antibiotic (e.g. using someone else's prescription)

-- Not finishing a course of antibiotics when they are prescribed

correctly

To help prevent antibiotic overuse and resistance, follow these simple guidelines from the PaCSAS.

-- Follow immunization recommendations for adults and children,

particularly with regard to influenza, HIB and pneumococcus.

-- Practice handwashing frequently and teach it to children. Hand

transmission of respiratory infections is very frequent and

handwashing helps. Children are more likely to wash their hands if

they see Mom and Dad do it.

-- Don't pressure your healthcare provider to prescribe antibiotics for

you or your family. Your doctor's judgment on this is important.

-- Take antibiotics exactly as the health care provider prescribes and

finish all medication, even if you feel better.

-- Never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.

PaCSAS is a coalition of health organizations including the Committee for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH), the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the CDC, other Pennsylvania health plans and other physician healthcare organizations.

Source: Independence Blue Cross

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